From a rocky career beginning — having his athletic dreams dashed and working in a steel mill — Todd Toriscelli has become an accomplished athletic trainer, a distinguished alumnus, the director of sports medicine for the Tennessee Titans and an NFL Super Bowl champion. And he said it all started at OHIO.
After graduating high school, Toriscelli attended the University of Akron in an attempt to play football but was told by coaches it would be some time before he saw the field and he was perhaps more suited for another level of play. Devastated, he went home to Steubenville and gained employment in a steel mill. One day, a friend enrolled at OHIO in the College of Health Sciences and Professions’ athletic training program, convinced Toriscelli to look over some of the material he was studying to see if it would grab his attention. It did.
“It was really interesting to me and I decided I wanted to enroll at OHIO,” Toriscelli said.
But, it wasn’t that easy. Toriscelli’s grades, quite frankly, didn’t make the grade but Charles “Skip” Vosler, an Ohio University hall of famer who served at the time as OHIO’s director of the athletic training education program, conditionally granted Toriscelli’s request.
“(Vosler) told me he had never let anyone into the program with my grades and said that if I got one C, I was gone,” said Toriscelli. “That was exactly what I needed to hear at that point.”
Toriscelli never earned a C. In fact, he fell in love with the program and the school. He admits the curriculum was “extremely hard” but said the bonds he formed with classmates were unique and special and said his time at OHIO “was the best four years of my life because of the people.”
Toriscelli said what he learned most at OHIO, outside of even the academics, was the importance of building relationships.
“You have to know your stuff, of course, but there’s nothing more important than relationships. As an athletic trainer, you have to have good relationships with your athletes, your coaches and fellow ATs. If there’s no trust, you can’t do your job,” said Toriscelli. “I was taught at OHIO very early that everything you do — all the knowledge and skills — are all brought together by the relationships you have with people.”
Toriscelli has served as the National Athletic Trainers Association’s liaison to the NCAA Football Rules Committee and been a member of the NFL Health and Safety Panel. He worked for seven years at the collegiate level as a head athletic trainer and for 17 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, first as the head athletic trainer and then for four years as the director of sports medicine and performance. He was hired in 2014 as the director of sports medicine for the Tennessee Titans and is looking forward to a new season under new head coach Mike Vrabel.
When he’s not at the Titans’ facility, Toriscelli spends time with his wife Chris as they visit New York to watch their daughter, Jenna, perform as a dancer in shows, or to follow their son, Shane, as he performs as a musician.
If you would have told a discouraged young man working in a steel mill after having his football dreams dashed that this would be his life all these years later, Toriscelli never would have believed you.
“I would’ve been in complete disbelief to know I’d have the opportunity to do the things I’ve done and meet the people I’ve met. I’ve been very, very blessed.” Toriscelli said. “Sometimes in the NFL, you develop a sense of entitlement but I refuse to allow myself to do that. If you keep gratitude in your heart, you’ll be successful in everything you do.”